Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moral quandary..... or is it?

A while back I faced a moral dilemma. A loved one called from 800 miles away to tell me that they felt their child was being abused. He claimed to have seen bruises and that she had a 104 temp but was being untreated. At the time the child was 8 months old. He told me he was scared and upset and that neither he or his estranged wife could take care of a child and could we help him by making sure his baby was safe and then adopting her. We wanted more children and we have always been open for adoption since I have such a hard time carrying to term so we said yes. But how to handle it? He said the mother would agree to adoption if we made sure it was a very open adoption. DO I say yes to that and agree knowing he also thinks she is abusing the baby? What do I do about the abuse? Some would say to stay out of it all. It was bound to be a drama filled situation. Some would say to report the abuse and then stay out of it. Some would say jump in and do all that can be done. Even without the legal obligation to report the abuse and insist on a well child check I would have done the last. This was a child in need. Frankly if ANYONE had called me with this story I would have leapt at helping. NO child deserves to be in danger. I would hope that if someone thought I was abusive they would report it as well because abuse is not a case of "Let's wait for more evidence." So many abusers are good at hiding the signs. Why chance it? So I called the mother who was far from receptive and refused to speak to me. I also called the local police and insisted on a well child check. In the end it came out that the person who had called me was heavily into drugs, was a natural liar, and was pretty much hoping I would "buy" his child. Do I feel sorrow for upsetting the mother? Absolutely. Would I do the same thing today? YES. We as human beings and especially those of us that are parents have not only a legal obligation but a moral one to report any suspected child abuse no matter what we might think about the situation. Because what if you failed to call and you were wrong and a child was hospitalized or, Heaven forbid, died because you failed to act.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The practical and the impractical.

It is tax season. For most families this means prayers of a return and fear that you will owe the IRS. We have been fairly blessed to not have had an owing year since our marriage. (knock on wood!) This year was no exception however we approached things differently this year. We mad a vow before we even saw the amount that at least 50% was going into the retirement fund. With how things have gone we knew that this was the best thing we could do to plan for the future. Granted if Hubs has his way he will never retire BUT we still need to plan. A lot of couples our age tend to write off retirement. It is so far off and there will be time to save. WRONG. There is no time like right now. Saving is not only for your benefit but for the benefit of your family. We have a relative who has no savings at all and we have seen first hand how putting it off has harmed this person but also every one else in the family. So save save SAVE!!

Of course you also need to let yourself splurge some times as long as it does not negatively impact your financial health. We decided that each of us also deserved something fun after the money went into savings. Every year our returns have gone to pay bills and while we could have put this towards a bill as well we decided to splurge and buy a want rather than a need. Hubs gets his bear hunting trip to Canada. I got my computer that I have always wanted, and the girls got a 14" trampoline. It was wonderful to buy toys for once. I have a hard time spending money, especially on something decadent and unnecessary. Hubs had to push a little, haha, but I am glad he did. It felt good to fill a desire for each of us.

The moral here is that you need to find a balance with the practical and the impractical. You have to plan for your future first and foremost but once you do it is okay to treat yourself a little!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Butterflies and Rainbows.

I was at dinner with my awesome Mom and her guy and my sweet family and I realized something. The fact that I am an eternal optimist is pretty interesting because I am surrounded by pessimists. The revelation came after my Mom checked the BYU/K State score and saw BYU was down 10 at the half time mark and she said, "Man this sucks, I was looking forward to seeing them play in SLC." Her guy and I both spoke up and said "It's not over yet." but it made me realize how strange I am. I am surrounded by doom and gloom seers. Hubs and a couple others see their glasses as half full but the core of my growing up years was all pessimists. My Grandma was always for the doom and gloom. It could be sunny with a 10% chance of rain and she would say, "Better cover the plants for the storm." That spread to so many of the people in my life. People who saw me fail the 7th grade and said, "This girl will never graduate." (I then skipped a grade and graduated in 2000 like I was supposed to.) Or those who said, "She is 18 and marrying a bad boy, this will never work." (9 years and counting!) I've even had the, "She is going to be just like her biological mother. A drug addict and a leech." (I have 2 pretty amazing girls and nary a drug in sight!) I've spent so much time listening to others low expectations and thoughts that there are moments even my happy self just gets buried. I learned that I have to be happy, I have to find the joy, I have to push past the failures. I am better than those low expectations and those low thoughts and that is why I am always finding the rainbows and flowers even in the stormiest moments of my life. That optimism has gotten us through some trials that no one should live through. So bring on the butterflies life. I'll always see you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

People are cheering this little **** on?!

Last time I was cruising online, and figured I'd hit up CNN.com before heading to bed. One article that immediately caught my eye was about a small island not too far away. They have had a rash of problems due to a kid whose apparently made it his life goal to drive everyone in the small community to the point of a lynching.

This little idiot was first arrested at the age of 12 for burglary and was given the nickname "barefoot burglar" because he'd leave barefoot tracks in the business and vacation homes he terrorized. He's now graduated onto stealing and wrecking planes, including one that buzzed the Olympic No-Fly Zone before crash landing back on Orcas Island.

All of this seems odd to me, seeing as the kid grew up in the area, but well, it still isn't a large area. How hard could it be? Police put out a huge manhunt after his latest stunt (including helicopters, dogs and heat-signature equipment) but eventually scaled back and never caught a clue.

But the oddest part is, this kid has fans. No more than fans, he has a stinking cult following. He even has a fan club. Why would people want to encourage and support this guy?! He's not some freedom fighter, he's a punk ass kid full of teen-angst who apparently has a knack at getting out of sticky situations.

Today I looked around and read several articles, including his fan club site. I'm reading a lot of things about how he's ADHD, and very smart, but was raised by a single mom who is inattentive and blah blah blah. This in now way makes what he's doing okay. According to CNN, he is suspected of recently breaking into a grocery store for food and supplies. People were cheering the act on Facebook, saying to stick it to the man. The only man he's "sticking it to" is the owner of the small shop whose slept there every night since the intrusion.

Shame on you, Kid. And even more so, shame on your supporters.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Before yesterday, I'd never had Irish Soda Bread. This wouldn't such a problem if I wasn't trying to bake it, with no idea what it's supposed to look like, or even taste like. Frankly, I was clueless.

Another random fact about me; when I'm clueless, I get antsy. It isn't pleasant for anyone. And the Boy sat and stared at me while I went through my entire cookbook collection looking for recipes. And trust me, this is quite a feat all on its own. Then I check every recipe site on the internet , you know, just to be sure.

I settled on a recipe from allrecipes.com called Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread. Firstly, because it was submit by someone named Megan. Secondly, because it's title reads 'Amazingly Easy'. Third, in one of the comments a woman mentioned she used her kitchenaid mixer. And once in a while, I'm allowed to be lazy.

The recipe seemed fairly easy, and I even happened to have some buttermilk (if you don't, it's very simple to make your own so don't panic). I knew I was going to make one change to the recipe, but that was simply using real butter instead of margarine.

Using my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment, I worked the room temperature butter into flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder until the butter had broken down to pea-size, give the flour mix a grainy texture. To this I added the buttermilk and an egg, all at once, and mixed on a low setting until everything was just combined. It seemed a little dry to me, so I added some additional buttermilk to get a good texture to the dough.

I turned it out onto a lightly floured cutting board and kneaded it for just a minute. I shaped the dough into a dome, and placed it on a baking sheet. Then using melted butter mixed with more buttermilk, I let the boy brush the outside of the bread, then using a sharp knife I cut an X into the top of the dome. I baked the bread at 350* for an hour, until the outside was crispy and golden brown.

When I cut into it for the first time, the warm smell of the bread about knocked me over. My goodness, it was basically a ginormous buttermilk biscuit! Slightly sweet and flaky, but just sturdy enough to be wonderful dipped in soup or stew. I even slathered a piece with jam and whipped cream and had it for dessert! This was so quick and simple, I will definitely be making this again in the near future!

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread adapted from allrecipes.com

4 cups of All-Purpose Flour
4 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 butter, melted
1/4 buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

indoor gardening

I got impatient and started my garden at the first hint of spring. Never mind that it has snowed three times since. So I have had these peat pots in my laundry room window for almost three weeks now. I only planted my tomatoes and peppers so far. (Any guesses what I plan on using tomatoes and peppers for? lol)

Friday, March 12, 2010

A mother's love.

For Valentine's Day my guy got me a Mother's Ring. We sat and designed it together. It has both girl's names inscribed on either side. The middle is made of two intertwined hearts and each heart has one of the girls birthstones in it. It came yesterday after weeks of waiting and it is beautiful. I find a part of me feeling sad too. It almost feels as if it is missing something. When we designed it we talked about adding our lost babies to the ring. I would add the stones of their due date month. I decided not to for a couple reasons. 1- Naming our angels now or just labeling them as angels seemed off. 2- I've always believed and found comfort in the thought that the little spirits meant for me kept trying until they received a body that was exactly perfect for what they needed to fulfill their purpose on Earth. So for me the losses were really Bug and Squeak working to prepare their earthly bodies. This thought has brought much comfort in those moments where I wonder if I am supposed to be a mother to more children or if I am dishonoring children given to me just because they did not have a chance to be born.

Seeing my ring made my heart stutter for a moment as not only was the joy and wondrous gift of my girl's brought close to my heart but the losses also surfaced. I know that while I go through my journey on earth the answers are not always easily found. I have my moments where I wonder why me? Why did I have to suffer loss? Why was I granted such a miracle in carrying Bug without help when my body should not have been able too. Why did I have to find out that I most likely suffered more losses than I knew of? Why was I given the gift of the proper medicine to allow me to carry Squeak to term? I know that one day I will have these answers. I know that I have been given amazing blessings. I have these two perfect girls. They love to cuddle and play together. They give me the most amazing hugs and kisses. Each one has such beauty and grace even in such a tiny person as Squeak still is. Each has beautiful potential and such sweet little personalities. I know I am blessed beyond imagining. Still I can't help but wonder. If my belief is wrong and each loss was it's own soul, its own unique person then what would they look like now? Would they be boys or girls? Would they have the same sweet giving heart as their sisters? I hope one day I can find out!

Until then I will look at my ring and be reminded not only of the treasures I have in the form of my daughters but also of the treasures I have lost and I will feel the love I have for all of them. My grief is a pale shadow when compared to my love!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I've happily joined the canning ranks!

Last night I completed my second batch of canning goodness. I've had my pressure cooker/canner since Christmas but had not cracked it open until a couple weeks ago. I am going to go and help my SIL when she goes into the hospital to have her 7th baby. The rest of the kids need watching so I'll go up to help with that and to be there for the first few days after she comes home. SO I got to thinking about meals. I am picky. I mean if you looked up the definition of picky eater my picture would glare at you in technicolor glory. Anyway I figured if I made some things and took them with me then I would know I have food I like. Yes I am that picky.

So before the sick invaded our lives I made a huge batch of Spaghetti sauce. I used a couple scoops and made us some stuffed pasta shells and the rest went into 6 quart jars. I called one of my besties, Maggy, to walk me through it as she and my other best gal pal, Gracie, have walked this mine riddled path before. So she walks me through it and a couple hours later I have 6 beautifully sealed jars of spaghetti sauce heaven.

Last night I once again made a giant batch of food in my 8 quart pot. I decided to do tortilla soup this time. It turned out genius. 6 jars of this and it is just awesome. I didn't even call for help this time though as I was getting the child in bed and heard the occasional click I was petrified I would go down stairs and find broken bottles. My food luck held however and pretty jars doth a canner make!

Next I plan to try Chili. I've cleared a whole cupboard of my kitchen and plan too fill it with all sorts of yummy goodies.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Update on the girls!

After multiple days of the girls going from one illness to another I took them both to see our pediatrician this morning. I love this woman. I was worried that after the amazing Dr. the girls had in the PNW we would get stuck with a cruddy one here but that is not the case. She looked at both girls. Bug has pink eye. She gets eye drops 3 times a day and benadryl to help with the itchy eyes part. Squeak has pink eye, an ear infection, and a sinus infection. She gets eye drops twice a day, antibiotics twice a day, and a decongestant type med every 6 hours as needed. Poor baby. Both girls are closer to their usual happy selves and I am better able to deal with them since Hubs let me have yesterday to rest and recover while he helped with the girls. Add that after tilting Squeak's crib mattress and fixing her humidifier meant better sleep for me last night and a happy mom doth make. Bug gets to stay home one more day for the eye junk and then things will get a bit more back to normal.

On an annoying note the Dr. said that Squeak's ear infection looks pretty bad and she has probably had it well over a week so the ER should have caught it but of course they didn't. When I said that they did not check her ears, eyes, nose, or throat I thought the Dr. was going to go murder someone. I don't regret going but I do realize now that I need to insist on certain things here if we are seen outside of our PCP's offices.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hair-pulling Mommy moments

Bug is sick. She has this virus thing. Hubs is sick with it again. I have it too but I rarely throw up so mine is just terrible tummy pain. Sooo I kept Bug home from school today and told her she needed to rest as much as she could. She hates that. All day she threw fits about where to lay, what to watch, what to eat. She is very like her father in that she gets horribly grouchy when she is sick. Then poor little Squeak is teething. She has always been a very miserable teether . Tears, whiny, and miserable no matter what. First she wants to be held then she wants down then she wants food then she throws it at me. Between the two girls I was about to rip out my hair. Add that I feel pretty miserable myself and it made for a very long very moody day. Luckily Squeak is in her crib sound asleep and Bug is in her room watching her Friday Disney shows. I am going to take this much-needed opportunity and curl up with a glass of juice and my book.

What do you do on those days you feel like you are going crazy and all you want to do is scream and hide from the world?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So now that I've gushed ....

let me tell you about the day. I woke up at 12:30 AM because Squeak was crying. I go in and rock her and she throws up her dinner. She has been dry heaving off and on for 24 hours by this time and managed to throw up a little during her lunch the previous day. I clean her up and nurse her a little to hydrate and calm her and she seems okay but still gaggy. She has a fever and she is fussing. At 1:30 she is in a fitful sleep and still gags sporadically. I wake Hubs to see what he thinks. (He gets up at 2 for work.) He says that if she is keeping liquids down she should be okay. I go back to cuddling her on the couch when she literally gushes all over me. I swear it was at least a 1/2 cup of liquid. I am in panic mode now. This is the first time she has been really sick and it has been a long time since I had a sick baby. I call our pediatrician who has a service and just hang up. I need answers now, not when she can return a page. I scour the phone book hoping for a hot line and find nothing. Totally sucks. Our peds clinic in the PNW had a nurse on 24/7 to help in situations just like this. Finally I am so panicked that she could have something lodged in her intestines or H1N1 or some other very bad thing that I wake Hubs and Bug and we go to the ER. We were in and out in half an hour. The verdict - Stomach virus. The Dr. said if it was flu she would be coughing and if it was something lodged she would not have any of the diarrhea she was producing. She still had tears and her mouth was moist so he sent us home to watch her. So I spent a long night on the couch with her.

I put her to bed about an hour ago. She has not thrown up since that last gush before the ER and no runny diapers since 3 PM so I am pretty hopeful we are done with that though I'll keep her home and watched closely the next couple of days. Her appetite is back and she seems to want to nurse a lot. PHEW.

It is actually kind of ironic that we ended up in the ER when we did the same 9 years ago after our wedding. Then it was because I had a major infection in my throat. I could not swallow or talk or even speak. I did not eat any of the food at our reception and only ate enough cake for the pictures. Our honeymoon was going from the ER to my MIL's house to the dentist to remove my wisdom teeth. It seems the infection started there and spread down my throat. It sucked.

Anyway back to the present day. Hubs stayed home since I royally messed up his sleep and I was a wreck. On the plus side we exchanged our gifts. (I got him a ceramic folding knife with leather pouch and he got me a gorgeous ring and a huge mug. The 9th anni gifts are leather and pottery. My leather was on the ring box!) We also watched our favorite shows and he went out and grabbed our favorite Mexican food. So despite the worry over Squeak it was a pretty good day.

Anniversary #9

So today marks the 9th anniversary of the day I made the best decision of my life. I married my husband. I always get excited for this day even when all we do some years is hang out at home and just be together. This day marks another year passing in the arms of a pretty incredible man. He really saved my life.

I am a very emotional person, made more so by my bi-polar. When he entered my life I was in a very bad place. I was suicidal and pretty despondent. The relationship I was in had turned toxic, the friendships surrounding me had wonderful moments and moments of extreme sorrow and I felt very alone and unloved. Multiple friends had died that year in heart breaking ways. I felt too different from my happy confident family members to really even consider confiding in them and I was just a mess.

Then came my 17th birthday. My boyfriend at the time had completely blown me off and so my friends decided I needed to go "cruising" which is a pretty big deal in our little town. So there we were when I should run into an old friend and two of his friends. I jumped into their truck and the first words Hubs said to me were "Buckle up, we would hate for something to happen to you." He claims he knew right in that moment that we were meant to be together. My guy is a huge believer in destiny. I was not so sure though. Then came October. Another friend passed away in a very bad car accident. I was feeling absolutely done. I was on the brink when Hubs calls me up and asks me to come by. He took me to my favorite place in the mountains and under the trees, in the moonlight, he let me cry and then he kissed me. I swear if fireworks could have gone off they would have despite how sad I was. Thus began our relationship as a couple. We had ups and downs as I fought through loss, and grief, and depression and he battled similar things. We broke up, often badly, and were drawn together again like a moth to a flame. Finally we got through the immature phase and really committed to each other.

He asked me to marry him on the lid of a delivered pizza box. I said yes. Like all couples we have had good times and bad. We have had moments where both of us considered walking. We fought threw them and now each day is better than the last. He makes me smile when I want to cry and laugh when I want to scream. He is one of the only people who gets me and loves me despite my mood swings, my low self esteem, my fears and hangups. He is okay no matter where I am emotionally on any given day. When I feel close to that dark brink he pulls me back again without even batting an eye. So really, he saves me every day of our lives together.

He is the other half of my soul. Where I am shy he is out going, where he is nervous I thrive. When one of us is feeling weak the other carries the strength for us both. He can complete my sentences. He knows my likes and dislikes. He takes my sarcasm and dishes it right back. He is my partner, my lover, my friend, my rock, my reason. He never pushes me to be something I'm not but always pushes me to fulfill the potential of who I could be. He takes each moment and makes it amazing, even if it is only to watch our favorite shows, or take a drive, or to hold me while I sleep. He provides for us amazingly so I can be what I have always wanted to be. A mother. He treasures me even when I am so frustrated and frumpy I want to hide.

Thank you for 9 amazing years my love!

Monday, March 1, 2010

What really is a family?

We took a recent trip to visit my SIL and her family and as we were sitting and talking as per our usual I had an epiphany. She is very much what family should be. This led to the wondering of what family really is and means. Family is supposed to love despite our faults. Family is supposed to be our biggest cheerleader and our strongest critic. When we are at the cliffs edge family stands beside us to pull us back and at the bottom of the cliff to catch us. Luckily Hubs and I are blessed with more family than we sometimes know what to do with. Sometimes though family becomes a crutch, a way to get ahead in life with little actual effort, a parachute that becomes a safety blanket that never goes away, cushioning us from dealing with life. Those instances turn the very definition of family from "love" to "toxic". How do we deal with that? When does love and support turn into something decidedly more harmful and what steps need to be taken to save not only the relationship but the giver's sanity? I began to ponder this and really try to think of solutions. I see many toxic relationships throughout life and knowing how to find the balance is so important. I came to realize that some relationships have no safe way to remove the harmful parts. If one person tries then the very essence of family requires another to step into that void and become the one being hurt. Maybe another solution is not to end the harmful aspects of a relationship but to accept them in a bid to protect others from feeling more pain the you do. I do know that sometimes we have to sacrifice much to receive the blessings.